One and Done (Part Two) – Leaning Peak(1477m)

“On a Mish” #2 One and Done (Part Two). Leaning Peak(1477m). Fiordland National Park. 29.12.2017. My hip and back injury have given me a lot of time to think about climbing mountains. When I started to look at my many photos from all over the show I realised I was, and still am, really obsessed with big masses of land that stick up much higher than the rest. Whether carved by glaciers or pushed up by the pressure of volcanic activity (or in the case of the mighty Darran Mountains both), they all have their own appeal. And the good ones draw climbers to their bases with hopes of standing on the summit after confronting the challenges between the top and bottom. Some mountains I have climbed several times due to the fun and fascination involved in the journey to the top and back again. But Leaning Peak is definitely a one and done mountain…

With gear gathered for a night out in the hills, my girlfriend and I stood patiently with the other passengers at the Pearl Harbour wharf near Lake Manapouri, readying ourselves for a battle with gravity. The fact that we were the only ones with big packs did have the odd person asking us questions about our intentions.

After getting across the lake, everyone but us disappeared over Wilmot Pass enroute to Patea / Doubtful Sound, and we started to take in what stood in front of us. Lake Manapouri sits at about 180m above sea level and within a very short distance Leaning Peak gets to 1477m. The great jagged pyramid seems very large when you are staring up at its colossal uplift with intentions of climbing your way to the top.

We were armed with adventurous optimism and a rumour that there was a ‘track’ that helped get you through the Fiordland jungle. Having dealt with the Fiordland forest before I hoped that the track rumours were true, and we would be up high on the mountain looking for the perfect camping spot in no time.

The climb began with us getting around the Manapouri Power Station. The huge hydro power station is a remarkable feat of engineering and its construction has drastically changed the once unpopulated part of the large Fiordland lake. We pushed our way around the ferns and scrub that hug the station perimeter fence and then began to follow an old man-made watercourse. This took us through a very cool tunnel that had been cut through the rock on the side of Leaning Peak. It was a reminder that two similar but much, much longer tunnels were below us, taking the water from Lake Manapouri to Doubtful Sound.

Everything seemed to be going very well for us and we were having a good time on our adventure. We found an old water pipe which went directly up into the forest. This we followed until it finished at a large concrete tank. Above the tank it seemed like an old track carried on into the dark, thick and uninviting foliage. We didn’t know it yet, but this mish was about to get ‘interesting’…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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